Thursday, October 16, 2008

Elevator Speech: Have a 30-Second Speech for Whoever You Are or Whatever You’re Looking For

The expression “elevator speech” doesn’t mean a speech in favor of taking an elevator rather than the stairs or vice versa. It refers to a “speech” you could make in a 30-second elevator ride to tell someone who you are or what you’re looking for.

And whether you’re in high school, college or beyond, you should have at least one of these speeches down cold (and maybe more if you have different interests). And by down cold I mean: you know the speech so well you can say it as if it’s spontaneous rather than memorized.

Maybe you’ve noticed an adult asking a teen what she is doing and the teen says “applying to college.” What’s an example of what the answer should be when asked this question by an adult? “I’m applying to top Eastern colleges and I’m particularly hoping to be accepted by the University of Pennsylvania.” Now the adult has enough information to say, for example: “My sister is an alum. Would you like to be introduced to her?”

See the difference? The teen hasn’t asked for help, but she’s provided enough information for someone to offer to help. And if she were in an elevator and had only said “applying to college,” there wouldn’t be enough time for the adult to ask questions to elicit the same information and offer the same help.

At whatever point you are in your life, be prepared with this 30-second speech.

Someone on Facebook just wrote me that her 19-old-son is publishing a book and looking for information on book marketing. But she should have said: “My 19-year-old son is publishing a book on ………...” Although I did respond with advice for book marketing, I might have been more helpful if she’d mention fiction or non-fiction, the title of the book, and when it is coming out.

And if you’ve got different interests, have an elevator speech for each interest so that you’re prepared for any opportunity that comes your way.

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Brian Crouch said...

Good advice. To that may I add my $.02...

Be prepared with questions. You can open more hearts with a good question than with a good speech.

I've taken to going as quickly as possible into the realm of common ground. I try and find something the other person and I share in common. From there, I offer my 30-second description.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Thanks for the comment. And you're absolutely correct to try to first find common ground if you have the time. But if you only have a few seconds, you have to be prepared to answer the question "what do you do" clearly and succinctly rather than saying something vague and meaningless.